Saturday, March 17, 2012

Streaming Music Revenue Payments

From the Future of Music Coalition

If a song is streamed on Spotify, the company has three entities to pay:

1. the sound recording copyright owner, which is usually the record label.  In many cases, this payment is made via an aggregator like IODA, The Orchard, Tunecore or CD Baby.

2. the song publisher

3. the performance rights organization, which then pays the songwriter

Ooh, where’s the musician/recording artist on this list? They’re not on it, because they are not paid directly by Spotify.  There are at least three versions of how money flows from Spotify to a musician/band:

Unsigned/independent musician, using Tunecore as its aggregator: Spotify > Tunecore > musician

Musician signed to an indie label: Spotify > IODA/Orchard > indie label > musician

Musician signed to a major label: Spotify > major label > musician

Add into this the time lag between streams and payments being filtered down the food chain, and you can see why “I don’t know” might be the answer that is most appropriate in this instance.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Are Musicians So Afraid of New Technologies?

I have seen it over and over again. Musicians who have been promoting themselves for years, if not decades, are so suspicious of any new online tools or new apps that can either help their careers get launched or further the growth of their popularity.

Maybe it's that old saying "Once bitten Twice shy". It is true that whatever era you look back on, the musicians, the bands that went the Indie route instead of signing to some gigantic Major Label
have been burned by distributors, stores, the media, and certainly the live venues. So, perhaps when I talk to these people and mention Spotify as one example, all I get are negative reactions from most Indie artists.

Granted, today there are SO MANY new companies promising online exposure and easy-to-use website templates let alone digital revenue collectors that may or may not pay their artists or publishing companies that don't give their songwriters the money they are do, that IF you align yourself with the wrong start-up company you might get burned. But as I said, musicians and songwriters have ALWAYS been at the bottom of the barrel when it get to receiving their just rewards.

So back to Spotify. This company took most of Europe by storm years ago, and only arrive on our shores within the last year or so, after many months of negotiating deals with the Major labels and tons of Indie labels.

But listen up...Spotify is going to be around for a LONG TIME!! Also, the streaming music business, at any level, is really a new way of thinking about getting your music out there, and yes the royalties paid out not only by Spotify are extremely low at this time, as are the many copycat companies that are out there doing their best to attract and support independent music.

Give 'em a break! Streaming music and video and anything related to the 'Cloud' IS the future, and that future has arrived and is here to stay. So, stop being afraid of the many changes that are here now and use them for, if nothing else, extraordinary opportunities to expose your unknown music, or relatively obscure music. This goes for any genre of music from acoustic instrumental music to singer/songwriters, to rappers and rockers.

Its all about people finding your music, falling in love with it, and becoming a dedicated fan. That is what you really are after...dedicated and supportive fans. If you then can tap into those people what have an emotional attachment to you, you are more than halfway there. Catch these fans, interact with them. Make sure you are using the best social networking sites and companies and stop worrying about your revenue stream from either Spotify or any new companies that offer streaming services.

Instead, create your own streams of income from live show, licensing your music, merchandise sales from your live shows, and on and on it goes.

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, this new era of streaming content WILL improve over the next few years, and the stronger you are positioned in the exposure areas I have mentioned, the higher the likelihood that the deals you negotiate will turn more into more favorable financial rewards.

Get it? Got it?...Good!

Christopher Knab

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Excuses Musicians Use For Not Learning About the Music Business

I have heard them all...the reasons so many solo artists and band members give for not learning about the business they are in...the Music Business:

The Top 3 Reasons are:

1.They can't afford any courses, classes, books, or workshops.(in truth no musician can afford NOT to educate themselves about this crazy, ever-changing business)

2.They believe that if they know the right people in the music business, they won't have to bother with learning how their industry operates, their contacts will take care of them.(and will they ever!!)

3. Leaning about the music business will take too much time away from creating their music.(yes, and more likely unscrupulous businessmen and women will exploit that very creativity they are so enamored with.)

Now, I may not have heard all the reasons for being ignorant of the inner workings of this business.

I'm sure you have your own reasons for avoiding this issue, but all I am asking you to do is examine those reasons. Ask questions about how things work!

That would at least be a start!

To paraphrase a well-known saying: "The career you save may be your own!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Building a Successful Radio Airplay Campaign

Designing A Realistic Radio Promotion Plan

The commercial radio industry, at this time in history, couldn’t be less friendly to the independent musician. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some significant radio airplay available to you if you know what you’re doing. Outlined below is a plan to consider if you have the three important ingredients necessary for working your record to radio.

* The money to fund the campaign

* The time to spend working all the stations consistently

* A product that is ready for national airplay

When it comes to commercial radio, the chances of getting significant national airplay for your independent record are next to none. We live in an era when a small group of powerful media conglomerates own and control the most important radio stations in the land. Unless you are connected to a major label, or are independently wealthy, the costs of promoting your songs nationally to commercial radio have spiraled out of sight.

There are, however, lots of mix shows and specialty shows on commercial stations that may offer limited airplay, and at least will get you some awareness in the markets across the country. There will be a lot of work involved in finding these stations yourself, city by city, and music format by music format. I suggest you subscribe to or get a copy of the annual CMJ Directory.

If you have money to invest in radio promotion it’s possible to hire an independent promoter who may be able to open some doors to these shows for you. Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars a week for their services.

A more realistic approach for airplay is to consider the options available on the noncommercial side of the FM dial. (88.1 FM to 91.9 FM) With the combination of college radio stations, community stations, and even some of the larger National Public Radio affiliated stations, your chances of getting your record played are much better.

Also, don't forget those thousands of Internet radio stations that stream millions of songs a day. Google the phrase "Internet radio stations list", and you will be amazed how many stations on the web play independent music of every imaginable type. If you own a Blackberry or an iPhone, there are several free apps that will give you access to these web broadcasters.

Here is an outline based on how professional record labels plan for their radio promotions:

You need to prepare:
• A database of commercial, non-commercial and Internet stations that you realistically think may play your music.
• A timeline you’ll use to put together your promo material together (basically setting your deadlines).
Remember that your plan may be distributed to any helpers or employees you may have for your own label, and any independent promotion people you may hire. This plan will be their introduction to your or your artist, and is the plan they will base their work on.

1. Design a detailed overview of your radio promotion plan.
Consider all marketing and promotional ideas listed below.
Propose what you think would work best in each of the areas to help market the record to radio.
Remember to keep cohesiveness between all areas: Give reasons why your music is appropriate to each station you approach. You will need several practical tools/materials to achieve your goals. (Computers, Smartphones, reliable Internet connection, hardware/software, office supplies, etc.).

Address the following specific topics in your plan:

Background/Goals: Give a brief history of the artist, and describe your goals

Image: Describe/ maintain the artist's image consistently in all promo materials.

Radio: What radio format(s) will be targeted? What markets? Which songs? Any station promotions? (On-air concerts?) Hiring any Independent promoters?

Publicity: Describe your plans to create a “buzz” in the print media. Any press releases to the music industry trades? Update any bios, fact sheets, and electronic press materials.

Sales: Describe Distribution and Retail plans. Any in-store play/ promotions?

Other specific sales opportunities? Mail order, live shows, Internet sales
Any store promotional tie-ins with radio stations?

Video: Is a video cost effective? What airplay opportunities are there for the video?

Touring: Describe the time frame for touring, and other promotional events to coordinate while on the road. Consider specific clubs, halls, fairs, festivals,
Any club/venue promotional tie-ins with radio stations

Social Networking: Mention any Facebook, Twitter or other SN plans

Misc.: Having a record release party? Novelty items? Any other clever ideas?
Explain each idea in-depth !

2. Design a 12 week plan for the product and promotional tools.

* Lay out what needs to be accomplished each week to get the record out.

* Consider the: artwork, mastering, credits, sequencing, printing, pressing, booklets,layout/design. And be sure to convert your songs for online downloading!

* Include in the timeline when to start working on your promotional tools

* Design the timeline with deadlines for each element of your project.

Remember that your radio promotion campaign is part of what I refer to as the 'Four-Fronts of Music Marketing', and your plan must connect to all the other Fronts in order to be successful.

Always have distribution and sales plans, as well as publicity, advertising and touring plans coordinated carefully with your airplay campaign. The worst thing that can happen to any song on the radio is that someone hears the song, but can’t find a way to buy it.

Professional record labels always have distribution and sales connections set up before they secure airplay. You should do the same.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Think Like a Music Publicist

Think Like A Professional Music Publicist

(25 Tips borrowed from the mind of a publicity genius...Howard Bloom)

The following information is summarized and improvised from an interview with the legendary music publicist and father of modern music publicity...Howard Bloom in the ‘Billboard Guide to Music Publicity’ (out of print book)

Howard Bloom (now a retired music publicist and well known author of books such as the Lucifer Principle is responsible for the publicity for such legendary artists and bands as: ZZ Top, Prince, Talking Heads, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, REO Speedwagon, George Michael, and countless other artists.

The 25 Tips;

1. Learn to be a writer for magazines, newspapers, and any online publications.

2. When going in to work with an act for the first time, go in AS IF you were a journalist and interview them at GREAT LENGTH, spending as much as 2 or 3 days in the interview.

3. The purpose of this is to find out all the facts, but more than just bland facts—find those things that will make an interesting and compelling ANGLE.


5.THEN, write your Bio, that incorporates all the information you have discovered.

6. Writing your Bio is like a good encyclopedia tells all the facts that would be useful to other writers you will send the Bio to, and to yourself as you approach media contacts who will be EAGER to take your phone calls and work with you.

7. Publicity by itself cannot sell records, but it will be a strong addition to your other marketing tactics if done right.

8. Don’t worry about generating tons of press. Concentrate on appropriate media contacts within your geographic and budgeting limits. Then WORK those contacts with constant, but polite communications that will provide your contacts with useful information to do THEIR job.

9. If done right and in cooperation with a professional record label that is dedicated to building slowly and consistently the careers of their acts, publicity can do the point that as an act grows, and more and more articles and print media appear, people will ultimately say something like; “ Oh, that band (or artist)...I’ve been reading about them”.

10. Aim to get consistent press, month after month. No haphazard publicity planning!

11. Remember this truth: When it comes to the music publications, like Rolling Stone, Spin, Uncut, or Mojo....or even local and regional music outlets, there is a key group of critics that run through this country the way a nerve runs through a lobster. These critics are all friends and talk to each other. The have certain acts that are fashionable among them to like or dislike.”

I2. Is YOUR ACT one of those acts that these critics are likely to respond to? Research who these critics are and try to determine if your artist or band might be appealing to them. If not....

13. Keep your acts AWAY from any critic who you suspect doesn’t like your act’s kind of music.

14. Get involved with choosing the photographs that will be sent out with other publicity material. Keep photos 8x10, black and white, glossies!! Nothing else.

15, Music publicity is just one of many tools used to promote an act: get involved with the act’s management, record label, and publishing company. Communication is everything. If anyone drops the ball the whole campaign can collapse.

16. The first step in planning a music publicity campaign is doing research; the second step is creating one’s materials (bios, fact sheets, cover letters, quote sheets, business cards, websites, and other online materials); the third step is creating lists of those people you think are good contacts for your particular act. The next step is sending out or emailing the materials to those people you think can help your act, so that after a week to ten days, you can begin contacting these people and have people on the line who are willing to work with you.

17. Research and write down the ‘lead times’ for every publicity contact you make. Depending on whether a contact is a newspaper, a website, a blogger, a national or regional publication these lead times can vary from hours to days to weeks, or even months in advance of the publication date.

18. If you have done YOUR JOB with your contacts, you then have to wait and see if THEY have done THEIR JOB helping you get the word out, (the buzz) on your act.
If someone gives you bad press, don’t make a big deal about it, just remember who said what about your act, and DO NOT include them in any further publicity plans.

19. When working with a record label always remember that a record company will put out many obstacles to the development of the career of an artist. Being signed to a label is not the beginning of stardom, it is the beginning of your difficulties. A label will throw every obstacle it can in front of you, and it is up to you to find out how to get around, under, over, and through them.

20. You must be willing to work 12-18 hours a day 6 or 7 days a week until your act is successful, and be sure their label reps and management are going to be up working with you all the way toward success.

21. There is NO SUCH THING as a short term publicity goes on eternally OR until the act breaks down and quits. But as a publicist YOU will never stop working, you will just move on to the next project that comes your way....VACATIONS? There are no vacations in this profession.

21. Today, more than any other era, acts are broken on the road, and your publicity work should encourage that, and be in there helping plan the tours and all that goes with working the publicity angle as you move along.

22. When you are planning a publicity project you have to work out your strategy from the get go, like you are building a building. If you don’t build the foundation right, it will tilt just like the Tower of Pisa, except this tower WILL fall without proper planning.

23.Be sure there is ONLY 1 contact to the press with your act. YOU are that contact. Do not let members of a band switch around talking to the press. ALL these types of interviews or press conferences must be PART of your plan, and going back, IF you did your initial interview with the act successfully you will know what bandmember to work with to get the right information out to the press, and that information should be what YOU said to your act as you train them for working with the music press.

24. Choose your media carefully. We live in an era of many press possibilities: From local papers and magazines to the bigger national and international music publications. In addition there is radio...AM/FM, the upcoming HD Radio stations, satellite radio, and thousands of Internet broadcasters. And don’t forget television and the hundreds of cable channels out there. If that isn’t enough, there are more music bloggers out there than there are websites these days for music exposure. The trick is ....WHICH OF THESE IS RIGHT FOR YOUR ACT?

25.LASTLY....well, there is no last thing to know. There is just more to know all the time. You must be possessed like a demon in this business, or you...or worse yet...YOUR ACT may suffer. Keep your eyes and ears open for new publicity the old saying: “better look behind you, you never know who is gaining on you.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

10 Tips For Lazy Musicians

10 Tips Even The Most Lazy Musician Can Use

I got an email the other day from a young musician who was seeking advice about a 6 song demo tape he and his band had put together. He had plans to ‘shop it around’ to some labels to see if he could get a recording contract. He was a very polite guy, and wanted me to be very honest with him about what his band should do with their demo. The more we talked the more I realized how clueless he was. When the call was over, I couldn’t get it him out of my mind. How could he be so clueless in this day and age? What closet was this band living in, thinking that a demo tape of 6 songs was all he needed to get a ‘deal’.

I get upset when I encounter naiveté, or blissful ignorance…it ticks me off.

On the one hand we have a slew of entrepreneurial bands around these days that are very hip to using traditional and non-traditional marketing tactics to get their careers launched. Many bands are out their playing live as much as possible, using the web to get their music circulated and sold, These bands are working hard day and night to get their music into the marketplace, and they realize that the business of music is a ruthless business that demands as much from you as you are willing to give it, with no guarantees of any success coming your way.

And then there are the clueless, the naïve, and the blissfully ignorant. “Why won’t they just go away?” I ask myself. Because regretfully, “ignorance is bliss” is still a permanent state of mind for many aspiring musicians. These idiots will never go away regardless of the dozens of outstanding books, articles, regional and national music conferences, and webinars that are out there spreading the gospel of ‘do-it-yourself’.

It is one thing to be naïve, and another thing to voluntarily remain ignorant of music business realities. But wait, why should I complain?

I am a music business consultant. I should be happy that there are so many clueless musicians out there. They could become my next client. But they won’t because they have no desire to educate themselves. Even when I tell them they can get a lot of free information at my, they won’t even go there and read the free articles because…they are too lazy.

So, what’s a music business consultant to do?

Will I surrender to the clueless? Will I let the naïve get to me? Will I stop my crusade to help musicians with the business of music?


So, to prove it…here are a bunch of FREE TIPS for the taking:

1. Learn how to write a song!

We live in a time when everybody and their sister can and does make their own music.
That doesn’t mean however that your music has what it takes for record labels to invest their money and time developing, promoting, and marketing that music. A&R Reps are always saying, when asked what they are looking for, “We don’t know what we are looking for, but we’ll recognize it when we hear it.” What we can read into their comment is that your music must truly stand out in some significant, original, dynamic, and creative way. 95% of the original music out there contains regurgitated ideas that were ripped off from some other more gifted musicians. Challenge yourself! Talent scouts in this business hear hundreds of mediocre songs every week. What is it about your songs that make them stand out from all the rest?

2. Play live as often as you can.

You can always tell the difference between a musician who is in it for the money, and a musician who is in it for the music. The dedicated musician/band MUST play live every chance they get. Money-focused musicians whine about the fact that they can’t get club gigs that pay anything. If you really think that you can make your living solely as a musician in the first three to four years of your career, you are headed for a breakdown and disappointment. Think about it...almost every legendary musician who has made a mark on our culture has been a musician who struggled long and hard at their craft, and never stopped playing live.

Eat determination for breakfast! Go out there and play on the streets if you have to, play at schools, fairs, festivals, do benefits to help other people and organizations. Offer your services to non- profits, charities, church groups, and any other companies or organizations you can think of. Hang out at clubs, look for jamming possibilities, or start your own jam sessions. Look around where you live and you will see many places and venues where musicians can play. As you establish yourself and more and more people show up at your shows, the paid gigs will increase. Remember... play live, and then after you play live, play live again, that’s what musicians are supposed to do.

3. Never stop practicing your instrument.

One of the curious developments of the late 70’s was the huge increase in garage bands, punk bands, and ‘do-it yourselfers’, who just picked up an instrument, or started to sing with some friends, and 6 months later recorded a record and began to play live. Some great music, and new directions in music, came out of that situation. But now, 30 odd years later, the novelty of hearing amateurish thrashings has gotten a bit dull.
Prior to late 70’s, more often than not, the music that is our heritage was made by musicians who, from the time they took up their instrument, worshipped at the feet of some master bluesman, jazz player, folk legend, songwriter, or whatever. The habit of these inspired musicians was an appetite for perfection, the need to be not just ‘good enough’, but GREAT.

Why settle for less. Whatever developing stage you are at, go beyond it, re-commit yourself to your instrument or voice. Take lessons, or better yet, sit yourself down at your CD player and choose a favorite guitar player’s record, and listen closely to what they are playing. Then re-play it, and re-play it again. Challenge yourself to go beyond your limitations. Who knows, maybe you will discover some new territory, wherein you will find your ‘sound’, and increase your chance to stand out from all the mediocrity that is your competition. Believe it or not, record labels love to hear innovative, accessible new sounds. Actually in their heart of hearts, that is what they are really hoping to hear on every new demo music file or CD, and from every new act they go see at a live venue. Y

In the business of music, when we hear something new, original, and accessible to people, we can then invest in you with more security, believing that if we put our ‘label brand’ on you, with our talents of promotion and marketing coming to the front, then we ‘have something’, and your music becomes our music, and we work together to broaden you audience appeal. It’s kind of like a partnership between ‘Art and Commerce’. They can work together!

4. Cough up the bucks to register your songs with the Copyright Office.

I never cease to be amazed how few artists are willing to spend $35 to register their copyrighted songs online with the U.S. Copyright Office.

By the way, these folks are often the same folks who complain about not getting paid to perform their unknown music. All I know is that when an inventor comes up with some new product that they think will appeal to a certain type of customer, the first thing they do is file for a patent on their invention. The same reaction to protecting songs should be there for any serious songwriter. If you really intend to work hard and develop your career as a musician who writes your own songs, don’t wait too long to take care of this simple, but essential task. If you really believe in your unique and original music then take the time to learn the basics of copyright protection. With the Internet or your neighborhood library and/or bookstore there a number of easy ways to learn what it takes to file for copyright protection. Do it now!

5. Design some decent looking promotional materials.

The topic of designing and writing effective promotional materials; bios, fact sheets, cover letters, photos, and quote sheets is a lengthy one to say the least. My tip to help musicians promote their careers, and contribute to their getting any deal offers, is to make the promo materials as compelling, and informative as possible. Take an inventory of your accomplishments, positive reviews, past sales, and live appearance highlights, and organize them into professionally written bios etc. Having done that, time also needs to be taken to research who to send the materials to, and to ask each potential recipient what type of information they would like to have sent to them. No ‘generic’ kits should ever be sent out to any gatekeepers in the music business. Most gatekeepers in the industry today will want you to send any requested materials via email attachments. Be sure though to ask them what they prefer; email attachments or snail mail goodies.
I recommend these days you create an "electronic press kit"... Hell, everything is digital now anyway, so your press materaials should be digital AND the may need both!

6. Get acquainted with any labels or publishing companies you may be interested in..

If you were applying for a job with a certain company of corporation, wouldn’t you take some time to ask questions about their stability as a business, their reputation in the industry, and their background and experience? The same is true when shopping for a record deal.

(If you insist on this approach, and if my emails are a good source of information, thousands of you still insist on shopping for deals instead of building your career to attract the businesses you want to work with)

Some musicians get so excited when a certain label approaches them with a recording contract, or a publishing company offers to sign them. Well, what can I say…go ahead and sign some damn deal…you will be writing me back after you experiences with that approach and asking me for help, but it will be too late by then…sorry suckers!

At least take the time to learn a few things about contracts before you go looking for one. Research the companies who may contact you. How have they done with your particular genre of music? What specific ‘points’ are they offering you? Who runs the label or publishing company? What is their reputation in the music business? How do you like them as people? These and other questions can be crucial in making an unemotional decision about an arrangement that could make or break your career.

7. Don’t use just any attorney for legal advice…find an entertainment law attorney..

The business of getting signed to any deal in the music business has always had, has now, and will always have, the involvement of entertainment law attorneys. No jokes will be inserted here, because any relationship between a musician, a record label, a publisher, a merchandiser etc. will come down to two attorneys hashing out the contract for the musician and the respective companies. It should be pointed out here that when all is said in done with the ‘courting’ process, the musician is never present during the actual negotiations. The musician’s attorney and the music company’s attorney meet, talk over the phone, and fax, email, even text message their offers and counter-offers amongst themselves. This fact serves to remind you that choosing a reputable, ethical, well respected attorney with lots of deal making experience within the music industry is an absolute necessity for any serious musician who wishes to fight the good fight in the legal arena.

8. Learn what managers do by doing management for yourself..

Self management is always a valid option in the developing stages of establishing your career as a musician. Much can be learned by taking on the jobs of securing gigs, getting some publicity, planning tours, dealing with personal issues that arise within the band, and schmoozing with A&R Reps and various other label and publishing personnel.
However, there comes a time, usually when the daily tasks of doing the business of being a band takes up too much time, and it is at this time that the services of a good manager can be very useful. I have always felt that if any musician or band has worked hard to establish their career, and achieved a modicum of success, they will have a better chance to ‘attract’ the services of a professional, well-connected and respected manager.

Today, finding a Manager is very difficult. Managers who do this job for a living can only take on clients that generate income. Making money as a personal manager is no easy task, and many upcoming artists forget that if any moneys are to be generated from their music, it can takes years for the flow of that income to be reliably there. So, as a band develops self-management, or gets help from intern/student managers, the road that heads toward professional management may open up.

Over the years I have heard several horror stories about ‘managers’ that approach upcoming acts and say that for X amount of dollars, they can do such and such for the artist. No, this is not the way legit personal manager’s work. Well-connected and respected personal managers get paid a negotiated fee for their services (get it in writing) for any and all business transactions they are responsible for (15%-25%) over a particular contract period. No musicians should ever pay a fee to a so-called ‘manager’ who will not do any work UNLESS they are paid up front. Flim Flam men and women still abound in this business... be forewarned.

One of the most important jobs of a manager is to secure recording and publishing contracts for their clients, this is why it is so essential to choose well connected and well respected managers. The music business is a ‘relationship’ business. Who knows whom, and who can get to the gatekeepers, and who did what successfully, is what this management game is all about. Choose carefully the people who will be representing you in any business dealings.

9. Take advice only from people who have talked the talk and walked the walk.

Everybody has their own list of Do’s and Don’ts and the only real value they have is that they present you with ‘opinions’ about what to do to get established as a musician.

To be quite candid, the best rules in the music business comes from the experience of building your own career; learning from your own interactions with the gatekeepers at labels, the media, management, and booking companies as to what is right or wrong for you. For every Do or Don’t there is an exception to a so-called ‘rule’. As I reflect on the advice I received and listened to over the years, the most valid tips came from people who walked the walk, and talked the talk. If you feel that the source you have contacted knows what they are talking about, and has had first hand experience doing what you want to learn about, that is the only feedback that might stand up over time. Choose carefully.

10. Educate Yourself! Learn something about the business of music.

Ignorant, ill-informed musicians are a menace to themselves. Over the decades there have been countless stories of musicians who were ripped off by their record labels and music publishing companies. Why? Exploitation was the name of the game, and still is when it comes to money issues. In the past, keeping musicians in the dark was standard business practice. However, the past has passed. Today, musicians who signs a record contract, and learns later about the bad news contained in it, have only themselves to blame.

There are dozens of outstanding books available on every conceivable topic related to the business of music. They can be found in bookstores, libraries, and through the Internet. In addition, there are many schools that now offer 2- 4 year programs on the business of music. Seminars and workshops are available on a year round basis in most major American cities. It is only myth, superstition, stubbornness, and immaturity that stand in the way of any musician making a commitment to educating themselves about the business of music.

And ya know...Google can find you everything you need to know on something called "The Internet"...yeah right, THAT thing!,

There ya go! Now please…get off your lazy butt and keep this information close at hand and commit to learning as much as you can about a business that thrives on exploiting naïve or the blissfully ignorant musicians.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NEW Intro to 4 Fronts of Music Marketing

by Christopher Knab (copyright 2010)

There are many factors that must be considered by musicians and bands as they prepare to release an independent recording, or attempt to shop their music to A&R Reps at record labels.

I have been involved with independent music for over 40 years. In order to help you understand what must be done to plan your career, and/or implement a record release, I have conceived a Music Marketing Concept that will help you professionally develop your music for the marketplace. This easy to understand concept can be used by any dedicated and hard working musician or independent record label to build and/or further their careers as talented artists.

By learning the ‘Four Front’ Music Marketing Concept, which is based on the time tested and ever evolving marketing strategies and tactics of major labels and independent labels, you will know what it takes to compete in and work with all the businesses, services, and people that a recording artist encounters while pursuing their musical careers.

You will see how understanding the ‘Four Front Concept’ can help you develop your talent and image; along with helping you create effective promotion, advertising, and marketing materials, which are so vital to a successful and profitable music marketing campaign. In addition, The ‘Four Front’ concept provides you with information on how the businesses and services encountered in the marketing process rely on each other for information and support of any recorded product.

So, let’s get started.

The Music Industry is organized into "Four Fronts" or key ‘areas’. The First Front of Music Marketing is called Artist and Product Development. It is broken into two parts. Artist Development is Part 1

It deals with all the issues that any new artist or band must consider, such as; songwriting skills, and musicianship development, creating an honest and consistent image, copyright and publishing concerns, co-musician and band issues, recording and mastering arrangements, as well as management and legal needs. Product Development is Part 2 and it deals with all the issues that must be considered after a recording has been made including: cover artwork design and printing, manufacturing choices, market research data, as well as distribution and sales strategies.

After the music has been created and a recording has been manufactured, the remaining Three Fronts, which are called: Promotion (the radio, TV, and Internet airplay campaign), Publicity (the press and media campaign) and Performance (live shows and touring plans) come into play to support the First Front of Artist and Product Development.

The trick to understanding the ‘Four Front Marketing Concept’ is simply this. You must conceive, budget for, and carryout a consistent four-pronged marketing campaign for your independent music.

Every successful record in history has behind it elements of this basic formula, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel, all that is needed is to build upon the tactics and strategies that have been utilized by record labels past and present, and to find innovative new ways to expand on those proven methods.

The growing impact of an Internet presence for developing acts is such an example. If you look at what is available on the Internet for musicians as tools to expose and sell their music, beneath the Internet’s structure is the basis of four key areas of exposure, Online Product Sales, Promotion through Internet radio stations, Publicity through many online publications, and the opportunity to Perform your music live over the Internet.

But, let’s get back to basics now, in the beginning you must concern yourself only with the music itself. Remember, the first half of the First Front is called ‘Artist Development’. This simply means that everything starts with songs. If you intend to make money with your music, then your songs must have some commercial appeal to them. This does not mean that you must ‘sell out’ to some passing trend, but history has proven that the music that endures is music that stimulates the imagination of the listener in some way so that they are moved to purchase it. ‘Ownership" of your songs is the greatest proof that you have reached someone with your music. When people have to own their own copy of your songs, that is the highest tribute to their worth.

So, your songs must be of that caliber. When you feel confident that your songs do have a waiting audience who will appreciate them then it is your obligation to protect them by copywriting them. If there is a growing market (or demand) for your music, then starting your own publishing company, or searching for a music publisher will become necessary. But as ‘Artist Development’ moves along, and the business of music progresses, establishing and consistently presenting a clear image for the public to relate to becomes increasingly important, as will defining the business structure and policies of doing business with fellow musicians in your group.

Artist Development also means perfecting your live performance skills, and finding affordable and reliable recording arrangements to record demo or other music projects. Finding the right studio, the right equipment, the right producer and engineer, and the right studio are all factors related to developing your art...your music...preparing it for the Product Development stage.

Before leaving the subject of Artist Development, it must be mentioned that self management, or attracting the attention of professional management may enter the picture. Someone has to arrange for and be responsible for all the details of the aforementioned details. And of course, the advice of a professional entertainment attorney is strongly advised as you prepare to enter the world of .... the second half of the First Front...Product Development.

Product Development, is again all those issues related to the question...You have recorded your music, now what do you do with it?

Well hopefully you have thought about your customer a bit. Who is your fan? What do you know about them, and how do you intend to make them aware of your music? I suggest that you create a cover for your record that embodies all the image concerns you dealt with earlier so that when your fans, and the business gatekeepers who stand between your music and your fan ( the buyers at distributors and stores, the music directors at radios stations, the writers in the press, and the bookers of live shows)...can easily see what genre of music you play, and will be intrigued enough by your artwork to want to listen to it, and hopefully buy or support it

Next, shopping around for the best manufacturing deal you can find becomes essential. There are, for example, dozens of ‘Package Deals" out there through such manufacturers as Discmakers and Oasis, etc. But, do you really need a thousand CDs? Maybe that is too many or too few! Too many startup bands and artists manufacture x number of CDs solely because they got a good price from a ‘package deal’. Research your fanbase, how many promotional copies you will need to send out, and how much money you have budgeted for marketing, and you may be surprised how many CDs you actually need.

Product Development then becomes a matter of SELLING your music. You must devise specific methods by which your CD can be purchased by your fans. Live sales, Internet sales, consignment at local stores, and ultimately finding distributors and retail music chain stores who will carry your music. Formal distribution is the toughest to obtain these days, simply because of the huge amount of releases being unleashed before an unsuspecting public. Over 1000 new releases a week are littering the retail landscape, so finding and using the other methods of selling your music are highly suggested these days.

Every professional and legitimate record label has setup the arrangements for selling their records before moving on to the other activities they will be used to expose the music they have released.

You must do the same thing. At this point at a record label, a Marketing Plan is written up. It will contain much of the information discussed here, and in the paragraphs ahead. But Product Development at a label means putting down on paper the tactics and strategies to be used to sell the release. Be prepared to spend some money dealing with all these issues. Distributors rarely enjoy working with under-funded labels. It takes money to develop your product for the marketplace. You will need funds for coop advertising with retailers, you will probably need money to print up hundreds of Distributor One Sheets (sheets that describe in outline form your marketing commitments), and if you want to get into some listening stations at retail, get your wallet out because it can cost thousands of dollars to get involved with that in-store merchandising effort).

Digital distibution IS the future, but not the focus of this article...just be sure you do it and use as your guiding light!

Enter the three remaining Fronts... The Exposure Fronts.

Do you want to get some college and/or non-commercial radio airplay? Or perhaps prepare to enter the super competitive realm of soliciting commercial radio stations for airplay. Welcome to the Promotion Front! ‘Promotion’ in the purest sense of the word means ‘Airplay"! It is the thoughtfully researched and carefully planned out campaign for getting songs played on the radio, as well as on the dozens of new Internet radio stations, and it can ultimately mean getting videos aired on public access TV, commercial broadcast TV channels and networks, as well as the MTV’s and VH1’s of the cable world.

The only reason record labels fight the good fight of trying to secure airplay for their records is the simple fact that when secured, airplay is the single most effective means of exposing music to the public. Be prepared however for a frustrating and competitive fight. You must be armed with your Product Development marketing ideas and plans, and a significant financial investment to have any real success on a national level with your Promotion plan.

On the Internet side of things, one could look at the MP3 revolution as the greatest Promotion gift to developing acts that has ever happened. By posting your music on the hundreds of sites devoted to MP3, you can have fans listen to your music any old time they want to after they have downloaded your songs from those sites, or your own website ( You DO have a website, don’t you?). Hot on the heels of the MP3 compressed audio file revolution, are many other secure downloadable opportunities as well. ITunes has changed the world for starters, and have the best deal going to get your music on iTunes, and have many other worthwhile marketing plans for you to check out.

The next Exposure Front is the Publicity Front. Armed with professionally designed, image-reflected electronic AND traditional press kit materials ( Bios, Fact Sheets, Cover Letters, Photos, Press Clippings and/or Press Quote Sheets) you will be organizing again a well researched, and hopefully effective campaign to get the music press to review your release, and eventually write stories about you and your music, as well as interview you about your music. This Publicity Plan will act as a support mechanism for all your other ‘Front’ activities. Of course there are thousands of on and off line press opportunities, but again, armed with your marketing ideas from the Product Development stage, you will have many reasons why a magazine, newspaper, fanzine, or e-sine should feature your music, right?

And please remember...Social Networking ( Twitter, Facebook et al ) are a KEY element of the Publicity Front.

The only other Front left to discuss a bit is the Performance Front. This, in many ways, is the foundation of most genres of music. Playing live in front of your fans is the best way to develop a loyal and dedicated fanbase. So, if you want to play in the clubs and other big venues that showcase talent, give the gatekeepers in that arena reasons why they should book you. I am a big fan of doing non-club dates as a way of getting the attention of the commercial mainstream clubs out there. From house party gigs, to school concerts, to fairs and festivals and everything in between, just getting yourself in front of audiences, and of course using that opportunity to get mailing lists made up, and to SELL your music...The Performance Front is the bedrock of the Four Front Marketing Concept. Many artists are finding ways online to broadcast their tours, and/or to have an archive of club and concert appearances via their web plans.

Now, with a basic understanding of the Four Key Areas of music marketing described, there is on only one other basic concept that must be understood, and it is this.

The ‘Four Fronts’ of Music Marketing are interrelated and interdependent upon each other!

In some ways there is a catch 22 about all this. By this I mean that in order to get your Product into mass distribution, the distributors want to know what your promotion, publicity, and performance plans are. In order to get significant airplay the radio stations want to know what your Product Development, Publicity, and Performance plans are. In order to get Publicity, the editors and writers at the magazines and newspapers want to know what your Promotion, Product Development and Performance commitment is, and in order to get the better live Performance gigs, the booking agents, and club owners need to know what successes you have had with selling your Product, getting Press support, and any Radio airplay.

So, where do you start? Well, I always recommend that you start where you are the strongest. Even though there are a lot of articles and books out there with titles like " Ten Steps To Musical Success", or " How To Be a Star in 30 Days", the truth of the matter is that every band or solo artist has to have the ability to ‘feel’ their way around this crazy business. There really is no systematic way that this ‘Four Front’ concept works the same for everyone. Many acts, as I said before, build their successes around touring and playing live in support of their independent music. Others get lucky with some radio airplay, or have become what are called ‘critics darlings’, and get a ton of favorable press, and that becomes there breakthrough Front. Others combine elements of different fronts, playing live regularly, and constantly selling their CDs and Tapes at their live shows. And of course, using the ‘Four Fronts’ online, a new generation of cyber musicians are getting their breaks online, using Artist and Product Development, Promotion, Publicity, and Performance tactics and strategies to launch and maintain their careers.

Lest you think that my discussion of this marketing concept is only the responsibility of developing acts, let me tell you this before I sign off...No matter how established or legendary any musician becomes, when they release another record, the ‘Four Fronts’ of music marketing stay with them forever. That is why they have stayed in your head all these years! You may just be getting started and think that all I have described is a one time deal until you are ‘discovered’. Sorry about that, the more successful you get, the more time you will spend dealing with the ‘Four Fronts’ of Music Marketing. Welcome to the business of music!

Christopher Knab

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